Daily Fantasy Football Defense Strategy: 6 Simple Tips For Drafting Defensive Players

Daily Fantasy Football Defense Strategy: 6 Simple Tips For Drafting Defensive Players

In daily fantasy football, quarterbacks get most of the glory. Running backs and wide receivers also get their fair share of attention. And let’s not forget the tight ends. A solid TE who’s having a great night can add 15 points or more to your score.

But what about defense? You don’t hear much about defensive players from daily fantasy football fans. To paraphrase the late comic Rodney Dangerfield, defense gets no respect.

That spells opportunity for you. While your competition all but ignores the position, you can fill the Defense/Special Team slot with a team that delivers reliable points. You might be surprised at the number of points you can rack up through sacks, interceptions, safeties, and defensive TDs.

So let’s set aside the silly notion that defense doesn’t matter. I’m going to give you 6 simple tips you can use to find a solid team for your lineup’s D/ST slot. Remember, in daily fantasy NFL contests, every edge counts.

#1 – Get Familiar With Defensive Scoring Systems

We’ll talk about some of the metrics you need to focus on in order to pick a good Defense/Special Team in a moment. To make the best use of those metrics, you need to be familiar with the scoring system used at your favorite daily fantasy sports site.

The good news is that the two most popular DFS sites – DraftKings and FanDuel – use the same system. There are no differences between them. A sack is worth 1 point at both sites. An interception TD is worth 6 points at both sites.

Here’s the complete defensive scoring system used at DraftKings and FanDuel:

Sack = +1 point
Interception = +2 points
Fumble Recovery = +2 points
Kickoff Return TD = +6 points
Punt Return TD = +6 points
Interception Return TD = +6 points
Fumble Recovery TD = +6 points
Blocked Punt or FG Return TD = +6 points
Safety = +2 points
Blocked Kick = +2 points
0 Points Allowed = +10 points
1-6 Points Allowed = +7 points
7-13 Points Allowed = +4 points
14-20 Points Allowed = +1 point
21-27 Points Allowed = 0 points
28-34 Points Allowed = -1 point
35+ Points Allowed = -4 points

Familiarize yourself with how points are scored by defensive units. That will give you the insight you need to fully leverage a defense’s strengths.

#2 – Analyze The “Points Allowed” Metric

The “points allowed” figure is a useful measurement of how effective a defensive team is. Its usefulness stems from its accuracy and the fact that it’s easy to understand. The more points a defensive unit allows, the less confidence you should have in it.

Is the “points allowed” statistic the best metric to use in fantasy football defense? Not necessarily. Other stats, such as the average length of possession and the number of fourth downs per game, are just as useful. In fact, they’re more useful when used together. But points allowed is accurate, simple, and easy to find.

#3 – Focus On Fumbles And Interceptions

A fumble can change the course and momentum of a game. More importantly, if your defense picks it up, you’ll get a couple of points added to your roster’s score. A fumble made by the opposing team that’s snatched up by your defensive players will earn you 2 points. If they run it for a TD, you’ll earn 6 points total.

It’s worth noting that using fumbles in daily fantasy football is tricky. They can occur for a number of reasons, not all of which have anything to do with your defensive players. For example, rain typically increases the number of fumbles in a game. Even the recovery of a fumble can be due to luck as much as anything else.

For that reason, concentrate on forced fumbles. It’s a much better gauge of a defensive player’s skill. Someone who has a track record of knocking the ball out of his opposition’s hands – linebackers Robert Mathis and Alec Ogletree are good examples – can be a valuable addition to your lineup.

Interceptions offer another useful metric. If a player on your defense picks off a pass, you’ll receive a quick 2 points. If he manages to get the ball into the end zone, you’ll receive an additional 4 points (6 points total).

Interceptions don’t occur very often. Those that are returned for TDs are even rarer. That being the case, their value as a metric is somewhat limited. One of the best ways to use it is to draft a defensive unit that’s scheduled to play against a QB who has a high interception rate. A defense with a strong record for intercepting passes should have multiple opportunities to exploit.

#4 – Choose A Sack Leader Against A Weak QB

You only receive 1 point for each sack your defense makes. But don’t dismiss this metric.

  • First, sacks occur in almost every game. That means you’ll have a chance to squeeze a few more points from your roster.
  • Second, a QB who gets sacked a few times is likely to get sloppy. He’ll look for opportunities to pass the ball – even if he can’t find an opening – just to avoid getting sacked again. That increases the odds of a fumble or interception.

Look for defensive players who racked up an impressive number of sacks during the previous season. In 2013, the field was led by Robert Mathis (Indiana), Robert Quinn (St. Louis) and Greg Hardy (Carolina).

Once you find a few suitable candidates, take a look at the QBs they’ll be facing during the week. Try to identify QBs who are sack magnets, like Ryan Tannehill (Miami), Terrelle Pryor (Seattle) or Christian Ponder (Minnesota).

Note that a quarterback’s sack percentage is influenced by numerous factors. For example, he might be overly-cautious to the point of never attempting a pass. Or his blockers might do a poor job of keeping the opposing team’s defensive line at bay. Or his wide receivers might stink. The point is that it pays to look beyond the obvious when targeting “weak” QBs to match against your defense.

#5 – Draft A Defensive Unit That Can Score TDs

Defensive touchdowns are where your defense can earn the big points. Take a look at the scoring system outlined in #1 (above). Notice that a TD will earn you 6 points regardless of whether it happens as a result of a recovered fumble, returned interception, kickoff, punt or field goal.

Defensive teams that have logged a high number of TDs from fumbles, interceptions, and the like can give your score a much-needed boost. Check out last season’s stats for the Chiefs, Bears, Bengals and Cowboys. All of them posted impressive numbers.

Admittedly, the number of fumble and interception TDs earned during a season is low. But if your defense manages to gain possession of the ball and run it into the end zone, the points they earn will come in handy. They could make the difference between cashing and busting.

#6 – Look For Value

One of the notable differences between DraftKings and FanDuel when it comes to NFL defense is the salary range. At DraftKings, the salaries in this category range from $4,000 all the way down to $1,500. At FanDuel, a much smaller chasm separates the highest and lowest salaries. At the time of writing, the top-ranked San Francisco 49ers cost $5,600 while the bottom-ranked Jacksonville Jaguars cost $4,500.

How should that influence your choice of defensive unit? Consider this:

At FanDuel, you’re not going to save much money by drafting a second-rate team. Only $1,100 separates the top and bottom of the list. So you might as well spend a few extra dollars and draft a great defense.

By contrast, you can save a ton of cash at Draftkings by picking up a second-tier defensive unit. The top and bottom salaries are separated by $2,500. That’s significant given that the highest salary is only $4,000.

It’s worth looking for a good value.

The most important thing to remember is that your defense matters. It can play a key role in whether you win the daily fantasy football contests you enter. Use the 6 tips outlined above to draft a productive defense that will contribute its share of points.

Daily Fantasy Baseball Tips For 50/50s, Head-To-Heads, & GPPs

One-Day Fantasy Baseball Tips For 50/50s, Head-To-Heads, And GPPs

With the MLB season in full swing, you’re probably already participating in daily fantasy baseball contests. You might even have the beginnings of an effective draft strategy under your belt. But I’m going to share something with you today that will motivate you to reevaluate your approach.

Your process for drafting lineups should reflect the type of contest you’re playing. We talked about the differences between large-field and small-field daily fantasy baseball in the past. In the linked article, I gave you some tips on how to draft pitchers and hitters according to whether you’re competing against just a few players or hundreds of them.

Today, we’re going to break things down even further. We’ll focus on 50/50s, head-to-heads, and guaranteed prize pool tournaments. Each one is a different animal. As such, each one deserves a slightly modified draft strategy.

Recap Of Daily Fantasy Baseball Contest Formats

Let’s start off with a quick recap of the various game types you’ll find at the top daily fantasy baseball sites. If you’ve read this article, the following information should be familiar to you. In that case, just skip down to the section where we deal with the strategy for 50/50s. Otherwise, here are some quick definitions to get you up to speed.

50/50 – This is a contest in which half the players win. If your ending score puts you in the top half of the field, you’ll practically double your entry fee (minus a small percentage for the site’s rake). Sometimes, you’ll compete against as few as a dozen competitors. Other times, there may be few hundred. Depending on the fantasy site, you might see this type of contest listed as a “double up.” Don’t let that confuse you. It’s essentially the same thing as a 50/50.

Head-To-Head – The name is self-explanatory. You’re squaring off against one other person. Think of it like a chess match. One person wins. One person loses. Cash for the former. Tears for the latter.

Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) Contests – GPPs are a ton of fun. You compete against a huge wave of other players – sometimes numbering in the thousands – for the chance to win a large cash prize. The entry fee is often just a $1, which limits your risk. If you finish at the top of the field – even in the top 10% – you stand to win a healthy payout.

Let’s now get to the meat of this article. We’ll start by coming up with a draft strategy for 50/50s.

Daily Fantasy MLB Draft Strategy For 50/50s

When you’re competing in 50/50s, coming in first is the same as finishing last in the top half of the field. For example, suppose you’re playing in a 50/50 with 29 other people. It won’t matter whether you finish first or fifteenth. You’ll get paid the same amount.

Think about that from a draft perspective. You don’t care whether you finish first, second, or third. That means you don’t have to stake your hopes on finding that one amazing player who’ll produce an outrageous number of points that evening. Instead, pick a solid pitcher with a great track record and focus the rest of your budget on building a well-rounded, dependable lineup.

**A quick note: your pitcher is going to generate most of your points. That being the case, put some time into finding the best pitcher you can afford to draft. Don’t spend so much money on him that your offense looks like a third-tier high school team. But bear in mind that now is not the time to be a cheapskate.

***Another quick note: I mentioned that the field for 50/50s can range from a dozen players to a few hundred. As a general rule, the larger-field 50/50s are safer bets. A larger field means that your team will be stacked up against more mediocre teams than would be the case if you were playing against a few skilled competitors.

Daily Fantasy Baseball Tips For Head-To-Heads

Your draft strategy for a head-to-head daily fantasy baseball contest should be similar to the one you use for 50/50s – with a few modifications. Before we jump into things, let me point something out that’s important to remember…

There’s a good chance that you’ll lose in an H2H contest. Why?

Two reasons.

  • First, you only have one opponent. You can’t count on a large field filled with mediocre lineups. Your team needs to be stellar in order to win.
  • The second reason involves the type of players who usually compete in head-to-heads. They tend to know what they’re doing and have the track record to prove it. If you’re a novice, watch out. You’ll be trampling on feeding grounds while occupying the bottom of the food chain.

Let’s say that you still want to compete in head-to-heads despite the risk. If that’s the case, keep the following advice in mind…

First, look for consistency. Some MLB players are phenomenally productive on some nights only to fall apart on other nights. They’re all over the map. Other players turn in a solid performance every night they play. In H2H’s, you want your roster filled with reliable players.

Second, avoid opponents who have won a large sum of money at the fantasy site. Their winnings indicate they’re good at putting together great teams. You don’t want to square off against them.

How do you find out whether a competitor has won a lot of cash? FanDuel makes it easy. Your opponent’s name is listed in the column titled “Contest” in the main Lobby (filter the list so that it displays only head-to-head contests). Click it to see how much he has won. The winnings are categorized by sport.

Playing To Win In Large-Field Fantasy Baseball GPPs

Guaranteed prize pool tournaments are in a class by themselves. Think of these contests in the same way you’d think about rolling a hard eight in craps. Winning requires a bit of luck. You need to fill your roster with players who each put up a significant number of points. Reliability is nice, but it won’t bring you a cash prize in a GPP.

When you’re shopping for a pitcher, don’t blow your entire budget. The key is to maximize the number of points you can buy for each dollar. You’ll need to do a fair amount of research to find pitchers who offer value. Determine which ones are on a hot streak. Find out who has recently come off the injured list. Figure out which ones are scheduled to play in pitcher-friendly ball parks.

How has the pitcher performed against the hitters he’s scheduled to match up against? How has he performed in the type of weather expected for that evening’s game? Are Vegas oddsmakers predicting a low-point game, suggesting that the guys on the mound will successfully keep hitters at bay?

It’s a lot of work. But assuming your opponents won’t put in the same effort, it can pay off.

When shopping for hitters, focus on guys who have performed well against the pitchers they’re scheduled to face that night. Look for those who are scheduled to play in hitter-friendly parks. And of course, check Vegas odds for the over/unders on that night’s games. Big numbers suggest a lot of points are going to be scored.

Here’s the takeaway: your draft strategy should change according to the type of contests you’re competing in. Your approach to 50/50s is going to be a lot different than your approach to GPPs. Stay flexible. The upside is that you’ll stand a much better chance of consistently winning cash prizes. Before long, you may become the type of daily fantasy player other beginners would do well to avoid.

Wondering where to get started in daily fantasy baseball contests? Check out Fanduel or Draftkings! Both sites offer great contests!

Building Your Daily Fantasy Sports Bankroll From Ground Up

Building Your Daily Fantasy Sports Bankroll From The Ground Up

One of the toughest challenges you face when you start playing daily fantasy sports is building your bankroll. You don’t want to risk a large sum of your cash, at least not until you gain some experience. Ideally, you want to deposit a little bit of money and make it grow.

Sites like FanDuel will give you a head start by matching your first deposit. That’s a great way to instantly double the size of your account. (We’ll talk about this in more detail below.) But you’re still left with the problem of actually growing your bankroll.

I’m going to show you how to do it below, step by step. It’s going to take patience on your part. This isn’t a get-rich quick scheme. You’ll also need to commit a certain amount of time each week since you’re unlikely to score a huge cash win right out of the gate.

So let’s talk about how to build your bankroll from the ground up.

Take Advantage Of Daily Fantasy Deposit Bonuses

, FanDuel will double your deposit up to $200.

Those bonuses jumpstart your bankroll. If you deposit $100 of your own money, you’ll actually have $200 at your disposal. Deposit $150 and you’ll have $300 to play with.

When you win contests using the fantasy site’s bonus money, you get to keep the winnings. You’re required to earn out the bonus before you can withdraw the funds, but the cash is essentially yours.

Play At Several Daily Fantasy Sports Sites

At first, you’ll probably limit your playing to a single site. That’s fine if you’re just getting started. But once you get some experience under your belt, you’ll want to register accounts at a few other DFS sites.

There are notable differences between FanDuel, DraftKings, DraftStreet, and DraftDay. For one, they use different scoring systems. To understand why that’s important, consider how singles and home runs are awarded at FanDuel and DraftKings:

FanDuel:
Single – 1 pt
Home run – 4 pts

DraftKings:
Single – 3 pts
Home run – 10 pts

Notice how a single is only worth 25% of a home run at FD. It’s worth 33% of a home run at DK. You’ll also find that batters lose points for strikeouts at FD, but don’t lose points for them at DK.

You can leverage these types of differences in your lineups. That’s one of the big reasons you should play at multiple sites.

Select The Right DFS Contest Formats

You’ll want to compete in a good mixture of different contest types. But you’ll also find that it’s easier to build your bankroll in a few specific formats.

50/50s and 3-man leagues are great training grounds for learning the ropes. You can join for as little as $1 and have a reasonably good chance of winning. Head-to-heads are also good, but stay away from the ones with large entry fees. Those are often shark-infested waters.

Most beginners make the mistake of jumping into the guaranteed prize pool (GPP) tournaments. The huge cash pools are hard to resist. The problem is, your chances of winning them are slim. So for now, I strongly suggest you avoid them.

Need help with the fantasy terms? Click here.

Establish A Weekly Contest “Goal” For Yourself

You can’t expect your bankroll to grow unless you play on a consistent basis. That’s what grinding is all about. If you happen to win the $150,000 first place prize in the King of the Diamond tournament at FanDuel, good for you. But you’re far more likely to rack up small profits over time.

That means you have to compete in a lot of contests.

Decide on the number of contests you’ll play in each week. I recommend that you start with 7 to 10. You can gradually increase the number as your bankroll grows.

Stick to the low-stakes games where the entry fees are $1 to $2. That way, you can play in a lot of contests without risking a huge portion of your cash. Feel free to join the higher-stakes games as you increase your bankroll.

Create Your Daily Fantasy Sports Draft Strategy

Since you’re going to be competing on a regular basis, you need to come up with a basic draft strategy. Now is not the time to wing it. Don’t worry about making your strategy perfect. You can tweak it as you gain experience.

A big part of building a lineup is knowing which players will produce the greatest number of points per salary dollar. You’ll need to do some research.

The type of research you do will depend on the sport. For daily fantasy baseball, you’ll want to pay attention to the ball park, hitter/pitcher match-ups, and which hitters are on hot streaks. For football, you’ll need to know who’s injured and which quarterbacks and receivers are working well together. You’ll also want to keep tabs on the weather.

The main point is that you need a strategy you can follow for every contest you enter. Keep it simple so you don’t get bogged down in unnecessary details.

Track Your Daily Results On A Spreadsheet

Assuming you’re competing in 30 to 40 contests each month (7 to 10 a week), there’s no way you can keep track of your results in your head. It’s not humanly possible.

So fire up Microsoft Excel or create a spreadsheet in Google Drive. Track the following data points:

– date
– day of the week
– sport
– contest format
– number of contests played (by format)
– total entry fee amount for the day (by format)
– number of wins (by format)
– number of losses (by format)
– amount of cash won/lost (by format)

With the help of a few simple spreadsheet formulas, some of the above data will take care of itself. For example, if you input the number of contests played and the number of contests won, your spreadsheet will auto-fill the number of contests lost.

Why do you need to keep track of all of that data? We’ll get to that below…

Test out your spreadsheet at Draftkings now!

Review Your Spreadsheet Each Week For Trends

When it comes to building your bankroll, data is your friend. By tracking your daily results, you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of your progress. You’ll start to notice trends forming over time.

For example, you might find that you’re losing a huge percentage of head-to-head contests. Or you may discover that 50/50s and 3-man leagues are where you’re generating most of your profit. Or your spreadsheet might reveal that you’re getting pummeled on Mondays and Thursdays, but dominating the field on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Why is this type of information valuable to you? Because you want to keep doing what works and stop doing whatever isn’t working.

Once a week, set aside 30 minutes to review your stats. Look for trends. Obviously, the more data you have, the more reliable it is. So start tracking it today.

Don’t Fear Losses Over Short Periods

You’re going to experience setbacks as you try to increase your bankroll. It’s going to be frustrating, especially if you rack up loss after loss over an extended period. There’s nothing worse than watching the previous month’s hard-won profits evaporate as you go through a cold streak.

Get used to it. But also realize that your slump is temporary. As long as your draft strategy is sound, you’re tracking your results, and you’re sticking to what works, you’re likely to profit over the long run.

A Simple “Trick” To Improve Your Odds Of A Win

Let’s end with a tactic that a lot of DFS fans ignore. This little “trick” can be great tool for giving your bankroll a boost.

Recall from earlier that I suggested that you stay away from GPPs. Set that advice aside for a moment because I going to contradict myself.

When FanDuel and DraftKings host guaranteed prize pool tournaments, they’re counting on attracting enough players that the entry fees match or exceed the prize pool. For example, as I’m writing this, I’m looking at an $18K Monday MLB Squeeze GPP tournam

ent at FanDuel. There’s $18,000 in cash prizes at stake. FanDuel is allowing 10,055 entries with a $2 buy-in. That totals $20,110, enough to cover the pool (and then some).

Suppose only 7,000 players showed up to compete. That’s called an overlay. Fewer people than expected would be vying for the $18,000 in guaranteed cash prizes. FanDuel can’t back out, so that money is still up for grabs.

Your odds of winning some of it have magically increased.

To be clear, big overlays are uncommon. The large DFS sites rarely have trouble attracting folks to their GPPs. But when you stumble on one, watch the number of entrants as the start time approaches. If there’s a huge shortage of players with minutes to go, jump in.

Remember, playing daily fantasy sports should be fun. You’re bound to have more fun if you make a consistent profit. With that in mind, use the plan I’ve outlined above to build your bankroll from the ground up.

Daily Fantasy Sports NFL Strategy

Daily Fantasy Sports NFL Strategy

With thoughts slowly but surely turning to the NFL with the preseason just a month away, it’s a good time to look at some strategy for your daily fantasy picks. Here you’ll find a list of ten strategies that might enhance your roster, and make you into a solid winning player for the 2014 season.

Check Your Line-Up – There is no excuse not to get this right, but you can be sure that there will be a large number of players on a weekly basis who don’t do this. If a player is injured, and he is in your line-up, you can’t complain when you don’t win. Use the NFL injury report to not only know who is injured, but work out who the replacements will be and see if they can gain you valuable points. If you’re not doing this you are burning money.

Check the Weather – Are they playing in wet or windy conditions? If so, do you really want to be paying top dollar for that receiver/quarterback pairing you like the look of? In bad conditions, running backs will be seeing a lot more of the ball than usual. Conversely a sunny, still day might be the perfect day for that quarterback to throw those bombs. Of course, the conditions in a dome will also be great for the quarterback/wide receiver. Keeping an eye on the weather will give you an edge over many.

Use Sportsbooks – Odds makers are some of the most clued up brains in sport – if they weren’t they would all go broke. Knowing this, when they set a betting line, you can normally assume it to be accurate. Therefore, if a team is well ahead on the spread, you won’t go too far wrong in picking some of the players for your roster. The totals line also tells a story – you’ll immediately know which games expect the most points.

The Quarterback – Like the game itself, your quarterback is the most important pick you’ll make. If you get the quarterback wrong, you can probably say goodbye to your money. Spend the most time researching this player – maybe list all of the starting quarterbacks, and cross them off one by one. This way you won’t be guilty of the “I didn’t even consider him this week” moment, having only looked at five or six passers.

Player Mentality – Players react differently to situations. Consider a player who has just had a terrible outing – is he the type of player whose head will go down and his performance will be affected again? Or is he the type of player who will train extra hard and will come out the following week determined not to let it happen again? The determined player is a player you really want to consider, as you’ll both gain a few points, and it’s likely he won’t be on
many rosters as a result of last week.

What about the player who has just had an MVP performance? Will he back this up next week, and go on a streak of good form, or are these performances just a rarity? Knowing which type of player is which will go a long way to giving you those vital extra few points.

Doubling Up – It can be a good move to put all your eggs in one basket by picking a combination of quarterback and wide receiver. If one has a good game, it’s very likely that the other will as well. This works best in leagues with lots of players, as it can go very well or very badly – when it does go well you could be aiming for that very big prize.

Rest – How long was it since the team last played? Did they play Monday night, and are now playing Sunday and have had a lot of travel in between? Have they not played for two weeks? Are they playing the second of back to back home games – and are therefore completely settled and had a full week of training? When deciding between two or more players, looking at this factor can make the decision somewhat easier.

Match-Ups – Check out when a poor defense is playing a good offense, or vice versa. Check out when a running back is up against a poor run defense. Maybe you expect a quarterback to have a good game, but his pass protection isn’t great, and the defense he is facing is leading the league in sacks? Do you really want to pick him? Consider as many factors as you can – the more work you put in, the more successful you’ll become.

Bargains – You want to find value for money in daily fantasy sports, and you’ll get no better value than a low salary player picking up a good load of points. Obviously this is easier said than done, as players have a low salary for a reason – but look at the winners of any big fantasy contest, and they’ll have a couple of players who were great value. Some fantasy players actually see a really cheap player, and are put off because of this – do the
opposite!

Use the Media Wisely – A player tweets that he is up for a big game, or a coach comes out in a press conference and says that his team is pumped for the weekend or that a player will have an impact at the weekend. Many fantasy players will see comments like this, and use them in picking their roster. Generally, not much notice should be taken here – for two reasons. Firstly, players and coaches don’t like to give information away – so any comments
should be taken with a pinch of salt. Does a coach really want to give his strategy away? Secondly, many fantasy players will indeed react to these comments, so by not picking the named players, you won’t be one of the sheep – always a good thing in fantasy sports.

Click here to find where to play your fantasy football today!

Four Easy Steps at DraftKings

Four Easy Steps at DraftKings

Turn $2 into $200 with Draftkings Steps Tournaments

draftkingsDraftkings offer an interesting four level series of steps tournaments, with the opportunity of turning $2 into $200. At each level there are qualification criteria for the next level, with players just missing out being given the chance to try again at the current. Step one starts with a buy-in of just $2, with the winner of step four either winning $200 or taking an entry into one of DraftKings major events. These events can be played at any sport, and if you were to win a step one event at, for example, baseball, you’ll be able to use your step two ticket at another sport.

Step One

Ten players line up in step one and the buy-in is $2. You qualify for step two by finishing in the first two. If you finish third or fourth you’ll receive another step one ticket.

Step Two

Having qualified for step two, you’ll play in a tournament with just four other players. The winner from the five will progress to step three. The runner up will receive another chance at a step two event. You can buy-in directly to a step two event, the entry fee being $7.

Step Three

This step once again features just five players, and you’re one step away from the final tournament. The winner from the five will progress to step four, with the runner up having another shot at step three. The direct buy-in for step three is $25.

Step Four

This is the final leg of the series and the chances of making the money are great here. Just three players feature in the step four tournament, and only the third place finisher doesn’t receive a payout. The runner up will take home $40 and the step four winner will make a cool $200. You can buy-in directly to a step four event, and this will cost $88.

Steps Tournaments – Tactics

At each level of a step tournament, at least 40% of the competitors will remain in the competition, however progression to the next level is tougher, needing a top 20% finish. Tactically, this isn’t straightforward, as aiming for a top 40% finish requires a slightly different approach to aiming for a top 20% finish.

A top 40% finish will normally be achieved by having a solid line-up, even if this means paying a lot of money for the top performer. You want the best players, and picking a roster of solid performers will give you a good chance of hitting that top 40%.

A top 20% finish is a little tougher, and isn’t always going to be achieved by having that “solid” line up. You might have to think outside the box a little more here – you may have to take more chances with your line-up. Consider that most of the players might pick the obvious players for their roster, so picking another player might pay great dividends if the popular player has a bad day as most of your opponents will have a bad day too. This tactic is a gamble, and will give you more high finishes but you’ll also bomb on a regular basis.

So which tactic should you use? To win the series you are going to need to progress through the levels, and to do this you need that top 20% finish, so veering towards taking more of a gamble with your line up might be the best idea. Having reached step three, and being one step away from the lucrative step four, many players will go for the solid line up, as they really will not want to go out – so taking that gamble here is most definitely a good
tactic, despite the chance of an exit here. Consider this scenario – if you do take the gamble you might finish 1st or 5th, the solid pick player might finish 2nd or 3rd. Who is better off? You make step 4 when you finish 1st and go out when you finish 5 th. The solid pick player replays step 3 when he finishes 2nd and goes out anyway when he finishes 3rd.

The final step offers a different tactical challenge. Here there are just three players, with two making the money – however the first prize is $200, with just $40 for second. Here you should be going all out for the win, so taking another gamble with your line up might be the best idea – finishing second is OK, but the winning prize is five times the second prize. Consider if you do gamble somewhat, you are giving yourself more chance of both winning and finishing 3rd, which will give you either $200 or nothing. The solid pick player will finish second often so will take home the $40 on many occasions. If you finish first more than once in five times when gambling, you’re making more money than the solid player.

DraftKings Becomes Fantasy Sports Powerhouse

DraftKings.com Makes Power Move – Buys DraftStreet.com

News broke on Tuesday that DraftKings had acquired Draftstreet. Users of both sites were informed by simultaneous e-mails.

DraftStreet users were informed, “As of today, we are very pleased to announce that DraftStreet has been acquired by DraftKings, a fellow leader in daily fantasy sports. DraftStreet has been an overwhelming success, surpassing all of our expectations when we started the business, and we owe that to you, our loyal players. Many of you may be familiar with DraftKings, so you already know both sites have plenty to offer, and we believe that combining all the best features of each will result in a great experience for all our players.”

DraftKings users were informed, “We are very pleased to announce that we have acquired DraftStreet as part of our long-term vision of continuing to bring our loyal customers the very best in daily fantasy sports.”

This takeover will see the user base of DraftKings rise by nearly 50% and added to this the site will now offer increased prize funds in their Legends Series with a $3.3 million fund and a $1 million first prize.

DraftKings did have a workforce of around 50 people before the merger, but this will grow to around 85 employees after the takeover. DraftKings also plans to hire several more software engineers and project managers by the end of the year.

Though the takeover will mean there is a new super power in Fantasy Sport, it will mean that there will be a little less choice for the Daily Fantasy Sports players. DraftKings and DraftStreet did take slightly different approaches to Fantasy Sport, with contrasting dynamics when it came to point structure on every sport, so for regular players on DraftStreet it may take some adjusting to. However, Jason Robins, the CEO of DraftKings has assured users that the site will incorporate the best of both the sites. “In the end what players should see is a combination of both sites,” Robins said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but the goal is not to just bring the users over, it’s to bring all the elements of DraftStreet.”

What does this mean for the Daily Fantasy Sports Scene?

How this move will affect the overall Daily Fantasy Sports Scene is open to question. With the NFL season fast approaching, this is a critical time for the industry and traditionally a time when firms will experience their highest amount of new sign ups. The merging of the second and third sized sites in the industry will present a fascinating rival to number one FanDuel and industry insiders are wondering if this acquisition might open the market for another firm to test the dominance of the new big two.

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5 Reasons You Should Draft Tiger Woods

Are you thinking about drafting Tiger Woods in fantasy golf?

Should you select Tiger Woods for your fantasy golf lineup?  There’s arguments both for and against choosing the game’s most famous golfer.  Many people would say the smart money bets against Woods in fantasy golf, due to his increasing age and out-sized popularity with casual fans, but in the right circumstances, Woods can offer exceptional value.

Here are some of the pluses to keep in mind when considering Tiger Woods for your fantasy-golf team:

1. He’s Aging, But He’s a Young 38

Tiger Woods has certainly reached the age when most golfers show an obvious amount of physical decline.  Some golfers adjust mentally, others physical; Tiger is one of the few who can do both.

Yes, Tiger’s skills are slowly decreasing, and yes, he’s no longer two strokes a round better on average than any other pro golfer.  He’s also going to have to keep on retooling and readjusting now that his body is showing more and more signs of physical wear and breakdown.  However, Tiger remains virtual unchallenged in pro golf for his ability to go through that process and return to the top of the game.

His overall physical condition means that despite being 38, he’s still a fit 38, and he may have as much as a decade of top-level golf left in his body, barring more serious injury or the simple loss of will to compete.

2. Across-the-Categories Performance in Non-Salary Leagues

Tiger Woods is generally overpriced in salary-cap formats due to his name recognition for casual players, but in a straight draft format, he can often slide to a very attractive spot.  Savvy fantasy-golf players can often overthink themselves, saying, “He’s old, he’s hurt, he puts too much pressure on himself…” and go pick a younger golfer of less ability instead.

Don’t forget to consider the numbers themselves, the most important of which (if not a daily or weekly category) may be all those Vardon Trophies he’s won for low scoring average – on consistently tough courses to boot.  (He won’t win the Vardon in 2014 after having to withdraw from a tourney due to injury, but that’s irrelevant to your drafting needs.)

Then consider that your league probably gives most of its points to subpar holes (birdies, eagles) and consistently high finishes in events.  In 2013, despite the off 2012, Woods still won five events, had several other high finishes, was fourth in birdies per round, 15th in number of holes per eagle – and oh, yeah, he was the number-one rated overall player.

3. Ride Him When He’s Hot

Woods is noted for his ability to run off three or four great events in a row, and he’s also one of a very few golfers who can post a low, low number more than once in a given weekend.  Many golfers can’t seem to follow up a 65 with anything other than a 73, but Woods doesn’t have that problem.

That’s why Woods, when he’s on his game, is one of just a handful of golfers who can win a tournament by five or six or eight shots, and all those extra holes under par can make for a winning fantasy-golf weekend for whoever has him in the lineup.  Few other golfers can close out a tournament in a similar manner – Rory McIlroy being one of the exceptions – so if Woods seems primed for a super weekend, give him a serious look.

4. Pressure in Majors, But Not Elsewhere

The same pressure that Tiger Woods places on himself in golf’s majors might be one of the reasons he’s still stuck on 14 titles, but the flip side is that he doesn’t put as much pressure on himself in non-majors.  The result?  He’s been even tougher in non-majors where he regularly participates than his overall great number would indicate.

This holds particularly true on course where Woods is comfortable and has had considerable previous success.  At Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer Invitational), for example, Woods has already won eight times, and would have been the favorite for the ninth in early 2014 had he not been sidelined by his bulging disk.  Woods might not get to Nicklaus’s 18 majors, but with 79 PGA tour wins already, he’s a virtual lock to eclipse Sam Snead’s mark of 83.  And Woods plays fewer events each season than many other PGA pros.

So it’s not a major, and Woods is on the course?  Then you have to consider him for your lineup.

5. Adaptability and Perseverance

The minus side of Tiger’s game is that he’s already had to reconstruct his swing and game on several different occasions, and he’ll likely have to do it again to protect his aging body, particularly his back.  That’s tough for any athlete, especially one nearing 40, but Woods has shown himself to be more mentally suited to this form of challenge than virtually any other athlete, let alone a pro golfer.

So the smart money doesn’t bet against him making another climb up golfing’s performance charts.  Such climbs are always done in skips and jumps, with stages of improvement marked by periods of setback and little gain.  That means if you can time it correctly and add Woods at the right moment, when he’s really honing his game into shape, he can be a great value.

Conclusion

Tiger Woods is often overvalued in general terms, but at the right moments and in certain formats, the best golfer in the game can offer an exceptional value to a fantasy-golf lineup.  The key with Woods as he grows older will be to use him selectively in your lineups.  Done correctly, it can be a “Best of Tiger”-type run… and that in turn can make your fantasy golf lineup a winner.

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Daily Fantasy Football vs. Traditional Fantasy Football

All Fantasy Football Is The Same, Right?

Daily fantasy football (DFF) leagues (a.k.a. one-day or weekly leagues) and tournaments have sprung to the forefront of all fantasy-football offerings. Today it’s the hottest of all formats enjoyed by NFL fans. It’s now easier to win daily real money fantasy leagues than ever. If you’re a fan of traditional fantasy football leagues (a.k.a. year-long or dynasty leagues) and are now considering signing up at a few DFF sites, you’re probably wondering:

  • How easy it to play daily fantasy football?
  • How does it differ from traditional fantasy football leagues?
  • How easy is it to make a deposit at a daily fantasy site?
  • Which are the best daily fantasy sites?
  • Can I cash out my winnings immediately?

Here are some of the key differences between daily fantasy football and traditional, season-long formats:

Single-Day or Single-Weekend Events

Fun as they are, traditional fantasy football locks in a player for an entire year, both in terms of the roster initially drafted and for the need to do one’s stat-research homework, every… single… week. Think about all the full-year NFL fantasy owners whose entire season was damaged by a single major injury, as happened with Packers’ MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers last year. Major injuries, trades, sudden and unexpected declines in performance – these are the bane of fantasy owners, just as they are for real-life NFL teams.

With DFF leagues, there’s none of that. The bad results of the past week are quickly forgotten and it’s on to the next weekend’s games. Injuries might knock you out in one week, but it’s only that week. And you don’t have to play every week, or every game. If you have pressing real-life matters or just need a breather, there’s no pressure to play every single contest or week.

Increased Stats and Scoring Systems

Most online DFFs use scoring systems that incorporate more statistics and scoring opportunities than found in season-long leagues. One reason is simply because they can; the interactive nature of the game allows for live-time editing and rapid calculation of the standings for any given week or contest.

Even at that, some sites and services are more stats-intensive than others. DraftStreet, one of the largest sites, has a particular reputation for complex scoring rules and the need for increased statistical evaluation. Other sites are more casual and entertaining, but don’t be fooled: Everyone who plays is out to win, and they’re playing as well as they can according to each site’s rules.

Finding one’s favorite DFF sites is a matter of finding the proper balance between statistical and research requirements, contest sizes, buy-ins and potential payouts, and special promotions or contests that offer extra value and entertainment to the fantasy player. Each fantasy-football site is different and offers players its own special strengths. The amount of statistics and scoring systems is among the most prominent examples.

No Chasing Lazy or Missing League Members

Few things drag down a long-term league faster than chasing down late lineups or dealing with arguments ensuing from roster changes of dubious legality. With online DFFs, there’s none of that. Everyone who pays an entry fee (as little as $1, with so-called “freerolls” and play-money events also available) is there because they want to be there.

Registering for an event puts the pressure on the player himself to take care of getting a lineup in on time and according to league rules, and if he does a poor job, that just benefits the other players. Plus, the automatic scoring means that the site and software itself handles all the statistical legwork; all the players themselves have to do is pick a lineup and play.

Ease of Deposits and Withdrawals, Financial Security

The formal legalization of fantasy sports under the 2006 UIGEA means that players can use online payment systems to participate that are blocked for use with other forms of gambling sites. It’s a virtual breeze to create an account on most major sites, which are based in the US and accept both PayPal and several prominent credit cards.

Since these US-based financial institutions offer their own purchase and fraud protection, daily fantasy sports’ legal legitimacy thus gives the players an extra level of security. While offshore gambling sites of other types have often encountered problems, and have even disappeared with players’ money, the US-based fantasy football world offers far greater security.

To play for real money, one must provide the site with one’s real-world information (name, address, and so on). This is done for the player’s own protection in addition to overall site security, to ensure that the player is the person claimed, that the deposits and withdrawals are legitimate, and that the player doesn’t live in one of the few US states that has declared fantasy sports illegal. (Those states are generally recognized to be Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Washington, and sometimes Vermont.)

Immediate Cash Payments of Winnings

Tired of waiting for an entire season to elapse while your money is sitting in a jar on the commish’s desk, even though you clinched your league with a month to go? And what happens if the commish himself disappears, or if other players in your real-life league refuse to honor their financial commitments?

One of the biggest plusses to daily fantasy sports and online sites is that when you win, your winnings are credited immediately to your account. In turn, unless you’re clearing a special bonus offer that might involve more gameplay, you’re able to withdraw your funds immediately. Such withdrawals generally take a day or two, depending on the site and deposit/withdrawal method used, but are clearly more attractive than waiting for Mr. Commish to ship you your money.

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5 Reasons You Should Not Draft Tiger Woods

Thinking about selecting Tiger Woods for your fantasy golf lineup?

There are arguments both for and against choosing the game’s most famous golfer.  There are some great reasons to draft Woods, but keep these possible detractors in mind as well:

1. An Increasing Injury Risk

It’s an old truism in golf. Back problems have shortened or lessened great golfing careers more than all other forms of injury combined.  And now Tiger Woods has back problems.  Are they correctible?  The surgeons say yes, and you can bet Tiger will train and re-strengthen his body, for but golfers, back problems never seem to go away completely.  One could ask pros ranging from Phil Mickelson to Freddie Couples to Lee Trevino; in golf, back injuries take their toll.

One thing that’s seldom commented in on his how hard Tiger swings, relative to many other golfers.  That swing itself likely increased his risk of injury.  Now that he’s been injured, it can crop up again at any time.  Woods has had a couple of other dings in recent years as well.  Even when he’s healthy, he now carries a somewhat higher risk, compared with other players, of injuring himself again and dropping from contention or being forced to withdraw.  That little bit of extra risk transfers into slightly worse value in fantasy golf.

2. Beware the Rust and Forget the Majors

Due to injuries, time off, and despite occasional appearances overseas, Tiger Woods just doesn’t play as often as one would think.  He’s spent much of the spring of 2014 on the injury list, but he’s never been much for golf’s year-end “silly season” and he’s only played in three official PGA events since September of 2013, for combined winnings of less than $90,000, a decidedly non-Tigeresque sum.

It’s hard to imagine that when Tiger returns, he’s going to have his old form any time soon.  Maybe he’ll back by the US Open, but probably not.  The British Open?  That’s more likely, but injuries such as Tiger’s typically require six months’ rehabilitation to return to top form.  That leaves only the PGA in early fall, meaning that 2014 is easily odds-on to be another major-less Tiger season.

Adding in all the internal pressure that Tiger seems to place on himself as he chases Jack Nicklaus’s all-time mark of 18 major wins, selecting Tiger for your fantasy team when any of the 2014 majors is on tap just seems to be a low-percentage play.

3. Age Means Inconsistency

Injured or not, golfers play more inconsistently in general as they get older.  At the age of 38, Tiger Woods has entered that area where his physical skills and prowess and pro-athlete timing have begun a subtle decline, no matter how much practice or physical training he puts into his game.  The line older athletes have to walk grows finer and finer; they risk injury by over-training, and if they under-train, parts of their game slide away from top form.

That inconsistency can crop up anywhere, and Woods has already shown that he’s not immune to the bug.  When he first returned to the tour after his long accident/breakup hiatus, the man simply could not hit a wedge pin-high; he went months before he was able to retrain himself to pro standards on that basic pro shot.  His famed stinger is the envy of pros and amateurs alike, but he hits it in part because his traditional driver became so inconsistent that hitting that low driving stinger became the better percentage play.  And his putting – there are some rounds, even some weeks, when he just does not make putts.  The early Tiger drained everything, week after week.

Remember, 38 is 38, golfer or no.  If Tiger was a tennis star, he’d long since have been forced off the pro tour and into exhibitions.  In the NBA he’d be a doddering, stat-padding drag on some team’s salary cap.  Golf allows for longer careers, but his clock is ticking.  Young golfers have a greater upside, and that’s a winning element in fantasy golf.

4. An Increasingly Artificial Swing

Tiger’s a chronic tinkerer with his golf swing, and you can bet he’ll be readjusting it yet again in the hopes of alleviating some of the pressure it places on his back, that may have contributed to his recent injury.  The last time he emerged from a long layoff, his swing was overly mechanical, and it took months for some of his natural fluidity to return.

So what’s wrong with that?  Tiger’s also been committed to a stringent workout regimen, and that’s made him ever more muscular and less wiry and lithe over the years.  Extra muscles, less fluidity, and a mechanical swing is just the recipe for those occasional wild swing yips that can send a ball out of bounds at a key moment, perhaps taking him out of contention in a given tournament in the process.  Recent years have seen Woods fire a few more of those wildly errant shots than in the “Young Tiger’ days, which all contributes to why he’s not as great a fantasy golf value as he once was.

5. The Epitome of Over-Value in Fantasy Golf

Tiger Woods remains the straw that stirs the proverbial drink when it comes to mainstream sports fans’ interest in golf, and that translates directly into fantasy interest.  Woods’ recent back injury was reportedly to have caused an immediate drop of 20% in the total handle of all money bet on professional golf in the weeks surrounding the 2014 Masters.

Many casual fans of golf pay attention only to what Woods is doing, true evidence of his transformation of the game, and that’s why whenever he’s on the course, the cameras follow his every shot.  Now, not all of that 20% share which global bookies attribute to Woods injury-caused sidelining would be directly bet on Tiger, either for or against him, but a good share of it is.

Yes, lots and lots of people bet against Tiger, particularly in fantasy golf, but many others, especially casual players, find it hard to resist that name recognition and marquee allure.  As a result, Tiger Woods is consistently overvalued; he’s fine in traditional drafts, but in a salary-cap format, he’s seldom a good value.  There are times when riding Woods can be worthwhile, particularly at a course where he’s had perennial success, or when he flashes that special “not going to lose” grit that was a larger part of the old Tiger’s makeup.

Conclusion

Having Tiger Woods in your fantasy-golf lineup can be a winning play, but more often than not, the price to obtain him is just too high for the risk involved.  He’s still going to draw plenty of interest, but interest and attention isn’t part of the winning formula for a fantasy-golf owner.

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5 Reasons You Should Not Draft Lebron James

Should you select Lebron James for your fantasy basketball lineup?

Is Lebron James worth drafting for your fantasy-basketball roster?  The game’s biggest all-around statistical star has plenty to offer for the right team, but a number of factors suggest that snagging James might not be your best bet.  Here a few things to consider before committing your fantasy fate to the shoulders of King James:

1. Paying Extra for Reputation

As great as Lebron James’ numbers are, they’re generally not worth quite as much as someone in your league will be willing to pay to obtain.  Lebron’s name recognition and casual-fan appeal mean that he’s likely to be overbid on in many leagues.

If you’ve done your homework, then you’ll know how to spend your budget wiser, as great buys always appear.  So for Lebron, there’s no need to take the bait.  Let the fanboys do the chasing and overspending.  Meanwhile, you’ll get better bang for your buck elsewhere.

2. The Day of Rest

A glance at Lebron James’ year-by-year stats shows that, despite losing only about half of a season to various injuries over the years, James still never plays in all 82 games.  As he ages, Heat coach Eric Spoelstra has found occasions to rest James, often near the end of a season when playoff spots have been decided.

When one realizes that the staggered nature of a typical teams NBA schedule means that some teams can play two or even three more games than others in a given calendar week, it can create a situation where Lebron might not even take the court late in your fantasy season, just when you need him most.

As happened late in the 2013-14 season, you might find yourself in a situation where you play Lebron in a given week – perhaps even a playoff week in your league — then discover too late that he’s not going to play.  “DNP – Coach’s Decision”.  Heck of a way to lose a league, should it occur, and it’s a small but non-zero risk you’ll have to endure if you have Lebron on your team.

3. Not Much More Statistical Upside

While Lebron possesses that magical extra gear that allows him to drive a team down a stretch run while putting up numbers that are better than his already impressive standards, will that improvement be enough to overcome the greater percentage improvements being put up by players elsewhere?

Here’s one of the hidden truths of Lebron James in the fantasy-basketball realm: Teams that own him are often destined for middle-of-the-pack finishes.  That’s because he’s generally consistent over time, and that the teams that due well in fantasy hoops are those which take a chance on lesser players, then enjoy the fruits of those players bursting out in a major way.

For instance, let’s look at Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas.  When Thomas moved into the starting lineup in 2013-14, he went from 13.9 to 20.7 PPG, 4.0 to 6.4 APG, 2.0 to 3.0 RBG and so on.  By and large Thomas is the same player; he just gets more minutes… and deservedly so.  But fantasy owners wise enough to snag Thomas enjoyed what is about a 40%, across-the-board uptick compared to Thomas’s 2012-13 numbers.

Nowhere in this nor any adjacent universe can Lebron James improve his already gaudy numbers by another 40% — and remember, if you’ve got James in an auction leagues, he’s already a big chunk of your budget.  Welcome to the middle of the pack.

4. No Way to Cover an Extended Injury, Should One Occur

Injuries are the ban of any fantasy-hoops GM’s existence, rather remarkably reflecting real-life in that regard.  While Lebron James has never truly suffered a season-ending injury, his increasing age (below) means that the odds of such an injury alos increase slowly over time.

And if that happens, and if you’ve got Lebron on your team – you’re done.  Write off your investment and move on to the next season.  Lebron typically costs such a high percentage of any owner’s budget that he can’t be replaced if a serious injury occur.

There’s also the fact that if you’re done for the season, you’ll be less likely to spend much time on your weekly lineups and you won’t get very much enjoyment out of the rest of your team’s lackluster performance.  Take Lebron’s big numbers off virtually any fantasy team that owns him, and there’s not much left.

5. Happy 30th Soon, and Here’s Your Rocker

Despite Lebron’s fantasy physical skill and conditioning, 30 is 30.  Lebron turns that magical number in December, amid the 2014-15 season, and that’s usually the point at which age-related decline becomes noticeable in any NBA player’s stats.  It doesn’t mean that players can’t put up awesome seasons in their 30’s, or that such declines are automatic or uniform, but that’s the smart-money bet.

Take Kobe Bryant, for instance.  His gaudiest year came at age 27, and it was at age 30 that his numbers began a slow decline that was there even before the devastating injury in late 2013.  From age 30 to 34, Kobe’s points dropped about 5%, the steals by about 15%, the rebounds, close to 20%.  In his prime, Kobe shot about 35% from three-point range; in recent years, it’s been more like 32%.

That overall statistical bleed happens to all NBA-ers when they reach their 30’s, and Lebron James is poised upon that precipice.  Barring injury, he’s still going to put up great numbers for several more years, but it’s likely that statistical bleed will set in soon.

Conclusion

As awesome as Lebron James’ fantasy performance would be your team, the costs of obtaining James for your lineup, combined with his increasing age and the catastrophic effect that a James injury would have, mean there are just as many reasons to look elsewhere.  There’s an old saying about having “all your eggs in one basketball,” and in fantasy-basketball terms, having King James on your roster means exactly that.